Monday, August 27, 2018


A court case in 1902 gives us some insight into island life over 100 years ago.

Some people kept dogs and gave them names. And some of these dogs were used to help hunt deer, and perhaps other animals in the wild.

Around 1901, Pedro Torres Hernández asked to borrow a dog owned by Luís Palomo San Nicolás.  The dog was named Fortuna. In Spanish, the word can mean "fortune, luck or success." The court document is in Spanish, so we don't know if the dog had that Spanish name, or if the court document translated the dog's Chamorro name into the Spanish "Fortuna," if it indeed had a Chamorro name, such as Guinaha or Suette.

San Nicolás lent Fortuna to Hernández, on the condition that he return the dog.

A year passed and the dog was not returned. Meanwhile, Hernández had taught Fortuna how to hunt deer.

San Nicolás went to court, asking the court to require Hernández to return the dog. Hernández answered that he was more than willing to return the dog, but that San Nicolás had never asked for it back. Additionally, Hernández asked that San Nicolás pay the court fees since all this could have been avoided had San Nicolás merely asked for he dog back. On top of all that, Hernández asked that San Nicolás pay him six pesos for teaching Fortuna how to hunt!

San Nicolás replied that he in fact did ask for the dog back, when he met Hernández on the road in Apotguan. He also spoke to Marcos de Castro, better known as "Sarmiento," who said that Hernández was selling two dogs, a Fortuna and a Perita. San Nicolás told Castro that Hernández had no right to sell Fortuna as the dog did not belong to him. San Nicolás also said he already paid Hernández six pesos for teaching the dog how to hunt, and that he had witnesses to vouch for this.

Hernández backed down and agreed to return Fortuna to San Nicolás and the case was closed.

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